ASRock ION 330 Micro Intel® 1600 MHz 320 GB , GeForce 9400M
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I connected it via HDMI to my Sony Bravia 40" TV, connected to my wired LAN, plugged in a Keysonic USB wireless keyboard and installed Windows 7 x64, took approx 28 mins and all drivers were found automatically, except one (co processor), so a quick look on the supplied disk fixed that.
I then installed Media Player Classic/ffdshow and accessed my 1080p .mkv fileson my main PC, via the Network. I'm pleased to say that all of them played like a dream, as well as some 720p files, no stuttering or problems of any kind. The Nvidia ION certainly handles things nicely. It does exactly what it says on the tin and is very quiet.
I've added AVG, SuperAntiSpyware & SpywareBlaster and M$ Office, plus a few other bits and the performance is quite decent. Probably not ideal for video converting etc., but very adequate for most things.
So far I'm very impressed and haven't found any negatives, but I haven't been able to test any BluRay disks yet, as I haven't got a BD Drive to plug in, although I doubt this will be an issue, if PowerDVD Ultra is installed.
In the end it came down to two options - the Acer Revo 3600L or the Asrock ION 330. The Revo was selling for around £160 with Single Core Atom CPU, 1GB RAM and 160GB HDD while the ION 330 was £230 with Dual Core Atom, 2GB RAM and 320GB HDD. There are some other differences such as the Revo comes with built in wireless and a keyboard + mouse but I didn't care about those. Meanwhile the ION 330 came with a Slim DVD-RW drive - much more useful for installing O/S etc.
By considering the component costs of each unit the price difference of the ION 330 was justified and one last factor was that I needed a minimum of 2GB RAM but in order to upgrade the Revo you need to break the security seal which would invalidate the warranty. So, in the end I went for the ION 330...
Some points to note - if you want to playback HD video perfectly you need to utilise GPU acceleration. Essentially this means you need to use playback software that supports this feature (obviously XBMC is one of them). In terms of noise level the ION 330 is quieter than my PS3, and nobody would consider the PS3 to be loud.
A few criticisms - the ION 330 has a gloss black finish very similar to virtually any TV you can buy today and everyone seems to love this... but not me, gloss black = fingerprint/dust magnet and thus I have a preference for matt. Also it has 6 USB ports but they are all on the rear, it would have been nice to have at least one if not two USB ports at the front for ease of inserting USB keys etc.Read more ›
Fan Noise = Almost silent, can't hear it whilst watching a program.
Heat = Doesn't seem to get hot even when overclocked.
Speed = Won't break any encoding records but is responsive in Win 7.
Form factor = impressive, definitly taller than a Wii but with much less depth. Same width.
Look = glossy black look goes well with my glossy black LCD tv
HDD = 320Gb has been big enough for my reasonable collection of movies. But is quickly filling up with recorded tv via my USB tuner.
Gaming = Have tried some emulators such as MAME and they worked well as for 3D have't tried.
Build Quality = Solid, full metal construction with a good amount of weight. LED power light on front panel has stopped working (but a good thing in my opinion).
The Dual-Core Atom seems to fly through Win7 and playing HiDef video on the TV was a breeze. Hooked up to a Wireless keyboard and mouse (went with the MS Desktop 3000 pack) it was a joy to use. I'm half wondering whether I should have gone for the BluRay version but, as it uses standard parts, I can always upgrade later and it is easy to open up and swap parts out.
I've already recommended it to a friend, looking for a media pc and I think it's going to do the job as our family PC/media PC really well.
EDIT: A few months down the line and I'm so impressed with this I'm getting another one. The first was for the wife, this will replace my current Core2Duo desktop and become my main workhorse PC. Main reason being the silence but it's also perfectly powerful for my needs (with Windows 7) and dirt cheap for the amount of PC you are getting.
Most recent customer reviews
Bought this to watch tv and other things over Internet. It is fast, starts up quickly and had enabled me to watch tv and other films from USB really easily.Published on 20 Jan. 2013 by Acustomer
Wanted a cheap PC to surf the internet and do basic stuff. This pc fits the bill. It is well built.Published on 29 Dec. 2012 by S D Faulkner
get this baby and shove in a Solid state HD on it... zero to desktop in 5secs on Win Xp!
I got this for 300 Eur.
Had it for a few months now and the only way I've found that it works as a media player is by using XBMC.
I have win 7 and XBMC on dual boot. Read more
Excellent , good value and completely noiseless, fits in well beside the other TV equipment.Published on 5 Feb. 2010 by Paul57
Tiny and cheap PC. Installed Ubuntu 9.10 (64-bit) on it with no problems. With XBMC it plays HD movies (720p and 1080p) smoothly. Under WINE it can play IL-2 without any problems. Read morePublished on 14 Jan. 2010 by Alex
I bought this because I wanted something that would do basic internet, word-processing and speech dictation and small amounts of sound video and photo editing. Read morePublished on 8 Dec. 2009 by poppavirus
I've got it connected to my 46' TV via HDMI plus WIN7 RC and Boxee. WORKS PERFECT !!Published on 29 Oct. 2009 by Patryk
Does everything my old desktop did plus more powerful at a fraction of the cost. Easy to set up, I loaded XP with no problems. Looks great! Silent as well! Read morePublished on 30 Sept. 2009 by dorsetlive